The Corner

Commencement Speakers

From a reader:

When I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1995 Bill Clinton gave our commencement speech. Most of us weren’t all that thrilled with the prospect of receiving our diplomas from him, but I hoped he’d give a pleasant speech commending us for our dedication and commitment and such. Instead he gave some droning foreign policy speech with little, if any, content tailored towards us other than the fact that the military had a role in his foreign policy. I thought it showed how little respect he had for us that he would come and use our graduation as a venue for his canned speech rather than congratulate us on a job well done or to exhort us to be prepared for the future.

I think the same thing can be said for Chris Hedges. It’s selfish and arrogant to use someone’s graduation as a venue for your own agenda and I think he deserved the boos and hisses. Other forums are fine and dandy for self-aggrandizement, but graduation is for the graduates, not the speaker. If they cared to, the university could discourage bad behavior by making known the consequences such behavior would incur. For example, I doubt any hissers would have received their diplomas or commissions at my graduation, and anyone who charged the stage would likely have ended up looking like Swiss cheese. As a result, we were a remarkably polite audience (I remember hearing many times how we weren’t supposed to utter contemptuous words about the president during his tenure yet no one felt the need to issue similar warnings once Bush took over…odd isn’t it?).

Maybe you should try having snipers behind the crowd when you give speeches, I bet people would be much more polite…


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